Men’s wheelchair team signs crucial new recruit

By Josh Birnbaum

The Illinois men’s wheelchair basketball team completed its lineup for next year, adding new recruit Joey Gugliotta, an athlete from Long Island, N.Y.

“Some athletes you recruit because they’re great scorers; some athletes you recruit because they’re great defensive players or rebounders,” head coach Mike Frogley said. “What Joey has – he’s got that intangible ability to succeed, to win.”

And win he has: In 2005, his junior team, the Long Island Lightning, won the national championship. Current Illini co-captain Steve Serio was also on that team.

Serio said he looks forward to playing with Gugliotta once more.

“He’s going to bring that element to the team that we were really missing last year,” Serio said. “(He will) do whatever it takes, work hard, and get the job done.”

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Gugliotta will be coming to the University to major in Sports Management. He said that he looks forward to all the opportunities the University has to offer him.

“It’s going to be so much fun having something to do everyday at the school,” Gugliotta said, “whether it be school or playing with the guys or going to basketball games.”

Gugliotta has played for Frogley before at the summer wheelchair basketball camps held at the University. Gugliotta’s experience with Frogley was one of the reasons he chose Illinois over Edinboro University, this year’s national runner-up.

He recalled one experience from Frogley’s summer camp that exemplified the type of coaching he was seeking.

“I kept passing with the wrong hand so he actually taped my hand up so I couldn’t pass,” Gugliotta said. “He’s just very thorough. If he wants you to do something, he makes you learn it and he plants it in your brain and you learn it.”

Former and future teammate Serio sees Gugliotta as the post presence that Illinois needs now that four seniors have left the team.

“He’s not big, but he’s a power player,” Serio said. “He’s an undersized big-man.”

Frogley also said that he feels Illinois will be a good fit for Gugliotta.

“We have a long tradition of winning and I think he’s going to fit in really well with that,” Frogley said.